Friday, June 26, 2009

Britain demands more from world on emissions

Adam Morton

The Age, June 27, 2009

EMBATTLED British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has broken ranks in global talks on climate change to call for the creation of a $US100 billion ($A124 billion) a year fund to help the world's poor deal with what lies ahead.

In a speech in London overnight, Mr Brown outlined an ambitious blueprint for a new international climate deal, due to be signed in Copenhagen in December.

The centrepiece was a fund, to start in 2013 and worth at least $US100 billion by 2020, to cut greenhouse gas emissions and help the most vulnerable adapt to locked-in climate change.

It is the first proposal from a major power on how the world should pay for the extraordinary costs of fighting climate change. A finance plan is crucial to convince developing nations to sign on to a climate treaty.

"If we are to achieve an agreement in Copenhagen I believe we must move the debate from a stand-off over hypothetical figures to active negotiation," Mr Brown said.

He said the money should be used to cut emissions where it would be cheapest.

"This will mean that, overall, developing countries will get back more than they put in," he said. "I commit the UK now to paying its fair share of the global total."

The fund would require national governments to commit new money on top of existing aid programs, but would also be drawn from auctioning carbon permits and charges imposed on aviation and shipping.

Mr Brown's speech accompanied the release of a manifesto, The Road to Copenhagen, which called for:

-A global emissions cut to 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050. This would require developed nations, including Australia, to set binding reduction targets of at least 80 per cent by mid-century.

-Rich countries to collectively cut emissions by 25-40 per cent by 2020. Informed estimates suggest current targets add up to a cut of 10-22 per cent.

-Developing countries to take action relative to how quickly they are escaping poverty. Research suggests that by 2020 their total emissions need to be 15-30 per cent lower than current projections.

-Logging in the tropics to be cut by at least 50 per cent by 2020, and reduction of global forests to end by 2030.

-Creation of a global carbon market, with rich nations linking emissions trading schemes by 2015. Major developing countries such as China would consider joining smaller trading schemes that could, for example, link national electricity industries.

British Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said there needed to be "greater ambition from all countries in the next six months". He said the British Government had set up a climate "war room" to work on the treaty.

Climate Institute policy director Erwin Jackson said Britain was the first major emitter to come up with a finance plan.

"It is critical that Australia joins with the UK in putting on the table a plan to unlock trillions of dollars of public and private investment," he said.

The British call came as the US House of Representatives prepared to vote on a climate bill strongly backed by President Barack Obama. The next major international climate meeting is next month, when the leaders of the world's 17 biggest economies meet in Italy.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will arrive with a bipartisan commitment to cut emissions by 5-25 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020, but no agreement on how to meet the target. Debate on the Government's emissions trading scheme was this week deferred until August.

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